by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 May 29, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(316)Thesis:God has effectively addressed man's bondage to Sin.
Introduction:In our study last week we looked into the fact that the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of Sin and Death. This is an extremely positive declaration. It says that our bondage to Sin has been broken. Now, this is either true or it is not. We are either free from the bondage, or we are not. If we are not, we are going to die. If we are, we are not only enjoying life now, we are going to continue to live tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. But, Paul's claim has some problems. The greatest of these problems is the fact that, though we are free from the Law of Sin and of Death, we still do not act anywhere near the way we should. This hypocrisy seems to deny Paul's declaration...but it does not. This evening we are going to see why that is true.
I. No Love, Some Love, Perfect Love.
A. Question One: What does it take to be free from the Law of Sin and Death?
1. The first part of the answer: it takes more than the Law can accomplish.
a. As long as the link between Sin and Death remains intact, the Law cannot set us free.
1) The maximum that the Law can do has two parts.
a) On the one hand, the Law can "promise" us "good" for compliance.
b) On the other hand, the Law can "threaten" us with "bad" consequences for non-compliance.
2) The weakness of this two-sided approach to keeping Death at bay is that the Law cannot make us want the "good" and fear the "bad".
a) What the Law promises us as "good" is usually not very exciting and the flesh demands "exciting".
b) What the Law threatens us with as "bad" is usually deflected until it is too late because the flesh says "that won't happen to me". [If I had a dime for every person who did not expect the evil that befell them, I would be richer than Bill Gates.]
b. Since the Law can only "promise" us boring things and "threaten" us with stuff we do not believe will happen to us, it has no capacity to stop Sin and that means Death is coming.
2. The second part of the answer: the link between Sin and Death has to be broken.
a. Since nothing short of resurrection will get us to "sinlessness", the only way we can be free from the Law of Sin and Death is for that Law to be destroyed.
1) In the first place, no one can honestly claim to be "sinless".
2) In the second place, as long as the link between Sin and Death remains unbroken, all who are not "sinless" are going to experience Death.
b. Paul claims that God "condemned Sin in the flesh".
1) The word "condemned" here is the verb form of the noun Paul used in 8:1.
2) It means substantially the same thing as the noun meant.
a) To "condemn" means to render a final judgment against someone.
b) To "condemn" means to declare a consequence for guilt.
c) To "condemn" means to execute the consequence upon the guilty.
3) The chief difference is that Paul takes a "personal" word and applies it to the "impersonal" issue of Sin.
c. The only way this could "be" is if God did something that allowed Him to legitimately break the link between Sin and Death.
1) What holds the link between Sin and Death together?
a) It is a "law": you sin, you die.
b) As a "law", it is an expression of the Justice of God.
c) It is because God kills sinners that Sin is linked to Death.
2) What could break the link?
a) One way would be for God to become "unjust" and simply stop killing sinners.
b) A realistic way would be for God to remain "just" and stop killing sinners.
c) Paul says that God took this second option: He sent His own Son "for" sin.
i. This means that God's Son satisfied the demands of Justice so thoroughly that there does not have to be anyother payment for sin.
ii. So, if a person can find a way to have what Jesus did apply to himself, he can sin and not die.
iii. The Bible says that the "way" to have what Jesus did apply to anyone is the "way" of "faith".
3. The third part of the answer: the actual sinning has to stop.
a. Though it is true that what Jesus did in terms of the Justice of God is enough to "break" the link between our sin and God's judgment, it is not true that having the link broken will produce true "good".
1) As long as sin is produced, relationships between persons will suffer the reality of pain and loss.
2) It does not matter if God does not send sinners to Hell because they sin because their sin will create a kind of Hell for them without His action.
b. So, the only real way to produce freedom from the Law of Sin and Death is to break the link between the person and Sin (in other words, to move the place where the links are broken from between Sin and Death to between people and Sin).
1) This happens incrementally at first and finally finally.
2) The real issue of Sin is the lovelessness of human beings.
3) But, by the Spirit of Life, Jesus' coming "in the likeness of sinful flesh" begins to address our lack of love.
a) The incarnation teaches us how God loves us.
b) God's love for us sparks a response in us of love for Him (1 John 4:19).
c) The spark is fanned into a flame by the growth in us of His Truth (John 17:26).
4) Then, finally, Jesus' second coming in the likeness of sinful flesh finally addresses what is still lacking in our love.
a) By death and resurrection, or instantaneous change into immortality, we are "perfected" in love.
b) At this point "Hell" is removed to a place of its own outside of the Kingdom of Light and nothing "Hell-like" is ever again produced in the experience of the children of God.